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tv   Lectures in History  CSPAN  September 1, 2016 2:02pm-3:27pm EDT

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the stakes of this one man's death from gas become very high indeed in wilfred owen's eyes. this gives us a sense of what nations ask men to do in war. to complicate this, i want to give you a quote from another war writer, a patriotic novelist who fought on the western front. his name was ian hague. he was reflecting in the 1930s about war books. specifically about war books that show us the sortedness of the great war in british memory. he writes, for the last 10 years, we've been submerged by a flood of so-called war books which depict the men who fought as brutes and beasts, as living like pigs and dying like dogs, disillusioned, drunking and godless. some of these works are just
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ordinary dull dirts -- he is not referring to wilfred owen as dull dirt, but sensationalized war novels. he says we do not need to worry about these sensationalized accounts, but others are undoubtedly sincere. they are genuine. their object is obvious and understandable, to paint war in such horrible colors that no one will ever fight again. you can certainly see that in owen's poems and you can see it in so much of the literature that comes out of the great war. so far, in this class, we have approached the topic of war and its impact on individuals, but also war's representations, and what i'm going to call simply war's stories. how war story works in culture and how historians approach that story from within cultural frameworks.
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using two case studies that we have spent time with all semester long, the impact of the civil war, of course, fought around us in the fields of gettysburg and more recently in the last few weeks our discussion about combat experience about the first world war, we've been able to recognize certain similarities within the cultural narrative s that are created by people who fight, but to come home, they survive conflicts and remember them afterwards. some central questions we have answered are, what motivates people to fight in wars? what sustains soldiers on campaign or at the front? how do soldiers cope with the experience of war? how do they change as a result of what they witnessed? and for this afternoon's class, how do they show change? how do they write about it? how are memories formed? how are they created and articulated on paper?
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our case study this afternoon is the first world war in british and american memory, and we are considering the war's impact on individuals and the much larger question of the memory of the war within british and american culture and literature. so for this afternoon, you have read some examples of how the war affected individual soldiers and how individuals then treated the war as a creative trope. the results of this creative enterprise -- their poems, their memoirs, their short stories -- at least are representations created culturally after the aftermath of violence, violence on the western front. their works demonstrates for a something of the war's memory, but we should use caution in the way that we use the term "memory."
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as we have talked about kind of ad nauseum in the class, individual memories are not the same thing as a collective consciousness. and though individual writers' works are often held up as being the voice of a generation, or the experience of a war, or the one book that you need to read to know something about this or that conflict. these works exist within particular context. they were written for particular audiences. a good example of this cautionary reminder is the way that we see and have examined the british war poet. war poetry has had a significant impact on the way the british view the first world war. many of them view it as a futile generational tragedy, a collectivized cultural of the wilfred owenization of the first world war. which has led britain to view
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the extremely complicated issue of the first world war's impact through the lens of doomed youth. doomed youth, lost generation, what ever grim moniker we want to use. this is another one of those problematic lenses that i believe we should remove from our world war i glasses. in other words, we need a new prescription for the war's memory. we are going to be more aggressive -- we should cut out the cataract off disillusionment and with clear eyes view the war generation. our case study this afternoon, war literature released in the 1920s, has to do with the value of literature to show us the emotional impact of war. we should have no doubt as to this value. but we should still, as historians, exercise good old-fashioned skepticism as to whether literature is an effective way of interpreting complicated historical experiences.
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we are trying to get at the heart of the notion of disillusionment. i will use it interchangeably with disenchantment because war writers of the period did. it is a cultural trope. but why did it become the dominant voice to emerge from the experiences of the trenches? at the heart of our discussion this afternoon, you should all emerge questioning the way novels, memoirs, poems, films, made-for-tv miniseries, etc. impact the way we view history. from our work in this class, you know that history is oftentimes framed by the way social groups choose to remember certain events. and we see this in the way that we remember conflict. the civil war is oftentimes interpreted as a redemptive national tragedy.
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and there are problems with us doing so. with interpreting it that way. the first world war is seen as bloody shambles, the lost generation, a precursor to the false start leading to the second world war, which is seen by americans as noble victory. the greatest generation. something that cements the rise of american power before vietnam. vietnam, seen as a political mistake. despair, disillusionment, shame coming from that war. the oliver stone interpretation of vietnam. each of these conflicts are of course complex. the way we remember them, we sometimes become victims of our own narrative reductiveness as we attempt to understand their vastness, their meaning, to understand our own identities. in order to understand who we are, sometimes we cut corners with the historical past.
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we see conflict through lenses designed for our own convenience. there is something very likable in us doing this. very much so. it's comforting. but if you know anything about history, it's not comfortable. it is messy. i was talking to one of you during office hours last week. how messy history is. how frustrating it is. and it made me very happy. not so much the student, i think. history is messy. but as historians, that's our role, to get to the heart of things, to push back against easy generalizations. to question their foundations and strive to complicate what we think we know of the past. this is what we do when we enter cleo's garden. so, let us leave cleo's garden and go into the murkier trenches. the first world war, as you know, was a global conflict. it was waged by empires. it was fought in many different theaters.
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an anglo-american memory it is remembered by his principal threater, the western front. the combat experience in the western front was brutal. soldiers adapted to their experiences, though, with surprising resilience. most who served in the trenches, most who served in the west returned home afterwards. although of course many bore physical and mental scars of their war service. when the war ended in 1918, it was widely thought by the allies to be a victory over the central powers. in the decades that followed, the great war's hard-fought legacy was internationally remembered in thousands of ways. it was remembered in stone. it was remembered in bronze. it was remembered in what is the
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subject of this class on paper by those who lived through it. now, just as war monuments are meant to convey certain messages to the public, and they all have similar kind of language about sacrifice, about national virtue, about causes, tributes to comrades, etc., war books also have a memorial purpose. they convey the author's sentiments to the public at large. they are a forum for doing so. memory in the hands of the war memoirists and the poets is about lived experiences. it's about personal history. but memoirs are also written to show something greater than just a collection of war anecdotes, greater than war stories. the first first world war generated hundreds of american and british war books. many of them written by veterans struggling to find a way to tell their story. in the late 1920s, some of the best-known of these books were written and published.
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"all quiet on the western front," "goodbye to all that," "understones of war," "a farewell to arms." today we are questioning the way in which three authors interpreted the war. more specifically, how veterans interpreted their own homecoming. the first is robert graves, whose "goodbye to all that" we have been discussing and struggling our way through this last week. the second is ernest hemingway, which says something interesting about american war service and about an american soldier coming home. the third, much less well-known regrettably so is an essay, the epilogue to a war book written by charles kerrington in 1929. through these three accounts, we hope to get at something, some
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kind of impression of what the war memory looks like in the late 1920s to some americans and britains who lived through it. first, i would like to start with robert graves. graves, i think is the closest to us, so we should probably start with him. i have put up a quote here from a critic, cyril falls. falls was a british historian who avidly reviewed war books in the 1920s for the "times" literary supplement. i rather liked him because he compiles his war book reviews into a rather slim book called "war books," in which he gives a paragraph reviewing all of the war books that come out after the first world war. and he reviewed robert graves as "goodbye to all that" came out
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in 1929. he reviewed it as such. his war scenes have been justly acclaimed to be excellent. they are. in fact, among the few books of this nature that are of real historical value. his attitude, however, leaves a disagreeable impression. one might gather that thousands of men instead of a few hundred were executed, and that suicides were as common as blackberries. he is, in short, another example of an intellectual, whose intelligence with regard to the war penetrates a much shorter distance than that of the plain man. rather caustic review of robert graves. when we left off with robert graves, we had him still in the trenches. last week, we examined graves
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serving in the western front. he's at the battle of luth. he witnesses what he regards as this amazing screw up of the british army within the trenches, and then he does another battle where he is gravely wounded. more than gravely wounded. he dies in that battle, or at least that is how it is reported back to the family. graves says at the time, i am not dead, but thank you for publishing something nice about me. so, graves is wounded in the trenches. graves comes back and he's recuperating back in england. and he starts to think a bit more on his military service. last week we talked about the type of soldier robert graves is. how would you summarize robert graves as a soldier, do you think? how would you characterize him? laura? >> he didn't fall into a regular group of -- kind of forms these
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friendships among the other soldiers, seems kind of like an outsider which we already saw from his life earlier than the war, seems it was the same situation. >> he seems to be a bit of an outsider. in the charterhouse, on the western front he seems to be an outsider. he does not fit in with his regiment. you get that in the subtext of what he is saying. robert graves is an intellectual outsider. he's not a great team player. you see a little bit of that. so he's a little bit of an outsider. how does he view his war experiences? how is he changing during the war, do you think? kevin, what do you think? >> he views it as a transformative experience where he's an outsider at the beginning of his life. he continues to be so during the war, but he also learns to get along with people a little better.
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he's able to buy into the regimental history. he takes a lot of pride in the group of men he is serving with, even if he is not necessarily the most liked figure. it gives him a new experience he is able to put to use. >> graves appears to be a surprisingly, and slightly reluctantly, good soldier. he deeply loves his regiment. he admires many of the men he served with. he is able to recognize her -- heroic qualities in the actions he sees at the western front. at the same time, graves is very conscious of lampooning what he thinks is military idiocy, and he talks a lot about, you know, kind of the british army, the british army's officialdom and how the british army is kind of screwing up the war as it is
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ongoing. he is able to talk about the great heroism of his own regiment, this great sense of esprit de corps of the royal welsh fusiliers, but at the same recognizing that the war's conduct is not ideal on the western front. when i say the war's conduct is not ideal in graves' eyes, well, how do you think graves' opinions are shifting and changing wards the notion of the war? the last section of his memoir is largely about graves coming out of the trenches and trying to deal with homecoming. trying to create a life after the war. so how does graves adjust? how does he reconcile this war experience with an idea of homecoming? what do you think? what do you think? what's your impression of him? yes, laura. >> eventually he tries to pick up where he left off.
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he goes back to oxford, even though he doesn't technically finish it. it seems a rough transition going back into civilian life. they do talk about how he tried to go back with officers training and things before that and saw how he would be able to get back in the swing of things. but it was actually much more difficult. he kept having flashbacks to earlier parts of the war. so that didn't work too well either. >> right, graves comes back with a case of shellshock, right? he identifies coming back with these memories of the war and gives us all kinds of examples of them. not being able to answer a telephone for the fear of a shock coming from it. commandeering private peoples cars as they are passing on country lanes. his foul language which he continues afterward to use, military style language, even though he has an infant at home. he changes that. everyone has to change that eventually.
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graves changes that. this is a period of adjustment coming back. he marries pretty quickly during the war. and then afterward in the last third of the book, he is really discussing this idea of trying to make a kind of normal life. but would you consider his life kind of a normal life? would you consider robert graves' homecoming to be typical of british veterans? yes? >> i think it was a little more intellectual than most of them coming back, and i think he really struggles. he tries oxford, he ends up going to egypt to do some teaching, which doesn't turn out to be that great. also, he's married. his wife is 18, i think, and he is 22. they have four children fairly quickly. i think he is really struggling. it is typical for the veterans to struggle, but i don't see -- i don't think you see a lot of them going to oxford and egypt to teach. >> right. >> for a way he is
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overcompensating for lost time. he does do a lot of things which would normally take a along time. over the course of a lifetime, he tries to do this fairly quickly. instead of taking things slowly. that's how it is. it's like he was trying to make up for lost time. >> yeah, yeah, i would agree with that. >> i totally agree with laura. i think one thing that he's trying to do, just as she was saying, he's trying to recover this lost time. he's also trying to redeem himself intellectually. like, i am going back to england. i am going to redeem myself. i am going to go to oxford and i am going to restart my life and hopefully progress. >> yeah, natalie? >> i was doing to say it seems on the small, day-to-day scale that his experiences are more aligned with a typical british soldier coming home. the fact that he does react to everyday items in a new and kind of almost frightened way.
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so the little nuances and how it affected his daily life and how he interacts with people and objects seems more typical than this extraordinary going to oxford post war life he led. >> yeah, you do see the struggle for normalcy that happens with graves. on one hand he does go to oxford and finds oxford to be full of ex serviceman, right? full of young officers going back and getting an education. but they're all people in transition. charles carrington, he went to oxford around the same time as graves. there are a lot of ex officers. he runs into and becomes a super fan of t.e. lawrence, right? he runs into him and is hanging out with t.e. lawrence. why do you think he's including that in the book? why do you think graves is putting in this run-in with t.e. lawrence? >> name dropping. >> name dropping. so he said at the start of the
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book he wanted to include things that would make it more popular and t.e. lawrence was so popular. >> yeah, he is like the avengers, iron man. he comes out of the first world war as kind of this middle eastern adventure hero. and graves puts him in. he says snidely later on he puts them in to sell more books. but it is pretty apparent that graves really, really likes hanging out with lawrence. >> he has this tendency to be an individualist unless he is hanging out with someone uber special. these just seem to be the kind of people he gravitates toward though. it's non-characteristic of graves to name drop t.e. lawrence. he has been doing that
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throughout the entire book. >> right. he's name dropped everyone else throughout the book. he's talking to hardy about poetry. drinking ale with t.e. lawrence. he is talking to sassoon, helps them out when he is going to be court-martialed. kind of all these great british literary figures and he's putting himself in their world. because he very much was in their world. he writes a biography of lawrence that sells pretty well in this same period. small biography of t.e. lawrence that we can summarize by saying robert graves loves t.e. lawrence. he loves writing about him and loves lawrence as the idea. >> but he's struggling with himself. he's industrial writing war poems. he is trying to make a living by his pen. he is living this bohemian life they're living in a cottage
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outside of oxford, trying to run a shop, et cetera. but then he's doing things that are pretty normal, ways in which he's trying to restart his life. he gets married. he has children. he obsesses over things like diapers. he on obsesses over things like money. so, he does try to have very much a normal life. when he leaves oxford and he goes off to cairo, he is trying his hand at a professional life as a teacher. does not go well though, right? goes back to being a writer, and eventually he says goodbye to all that. now the really complicated question we need to ask with robert graves is what do you think he says about british war memory? i got to tell you, i don't know the answer to this question, and i've been struggling with this for a long time. i always ask students, what are
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we supposed to get from graves? i can't figure it out yet. so i need you to try to help me figure this out. what is the takeaway of this man's autobiography? of his experiences in the war? >> i think one of the most remarkable about it is actually looking at how it's the guys in the trenches, who would have been noncommissioned officers, the leaders on the ground and in the trenches who are really making the movement. whereas the higher echelons of the british army, the ones in the regiment going through all of these difficulties, more firsthand than some of the officers is what he's going to look towards. >> i find find val's answer very interesting. does anybody else?
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why do you think i find her answer so interesting? what she's saying -- if i'm doing it inaccurately, throw your pen at me. graves show us something about how military life works on the western front. the war is being fought by these junior officers and the men underneath them. in the words of charles carrington "it is a sub all turn's war." it is a war being waged on the front lines. graves is trying to show us that. he is lampooning the higher ups. he is trying to show a something of spirit or spree to court within these small units. i find this really interesting. i think there are people out there who would push back against what val is saying and say, hang on, graves doesn't redeem anything in the war. but i think they might not be listening to val as closely as they should be. what she is saying is, though graves likes to lampoon heroism
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or military hierarchy, he does not really lampoon the notion of heroism of individuals, necessarily. he likes a lot of traditional martial things. do you think that's a pair docks within his writing? yes? >> i certainly think it is a reflection of himself and his life before as an intellectual. he is representational of the split in classes and how that is parallel to the military. he is certainly doing that. i think it definitely shows. i think that was somewhat of a common place in the british army is having that rigidity in social class as well as in the military, so it shows. >> okay, that makes sense. that makes a lot of sense.
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you are approaching the memory of graves is rather nuanced. is that what i am getting? graves is more complicated. kevin, you're shaking your head. he's a bit more complicated than that. when the book comes out, people like falls only see one side of robert graves. they see the name dropping charterhouse school boy with a bad attitude. but what they are overlooking to some degree is the stuff at the beginning here, graves trying to show something of battle. trying to show that this war is a little bit different. a little bit different in the way it is being fought. and within an elite regiment like the royal welsh, what val said is essentially right. that it's still being fought in this kind of traditional way where morale matters. more so than patriotism, more than anything else. comradeship seems to matter most in the trenches to graves. so we are walking away with a different impression of what the
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war's memory looks like. let's turn our attention to ernest hemingway and "a soldier's home." now hemingway was in the first world war. he was in the red cross. and he served in italy. and he was wounded in italy while serving in the red cross, he was hit by a trench mortar, and was severely wounded and had some major operations on his legs to recover from his wounds. so, he served as an ambulance man with the red cross. and then after he was wounded, he eventually came back home. so he's a little bit different than graves. he is not, you know, a four-year veteran of the war. he is not serving in an infantry
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regiment. he is serving in a different way. and the quote we have here is from his novel "a farewell to arms." natalie, i think you're reading it at the moment, aren't you? >> yes. >> maybe you can elaborate on that in a few minutes if you want. this quote comes from "a farewell to arms," a novel that he writes that kind of sort of describes real experiences. it is not a novel. it is based on his service in italy and he was serving in italy during the war and the protagonist in it, frederick henry, gets blown up and wounded in the same way that hemingway does. but hemingway puts in this one quote, and it is frequently put in anthologies, because it is seen as hemingway sharing wisdom he gains from his own war experience about how war changes
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men in the first world war. what he writes is -- "i was always embarrassed by the war's sacred, glory, and sacrifice, and expressions in vain. we had heard them, sometimes standing in the rain, almost out of earshot, so that only be shouted words came through, and he had read them, on proclamations that were slapped up by bill posters over other proclamations, now for a long time, and i see nothing sacred, and the things that were glorious had no glory and the sacrifices were like the stockyards at chicago if nothing was done with the meat except to bury it. typical hemingway -- lots of ands. there were many words you could not stand to hear, and finally the only places had names of dignity. abstract words such as glory, honor, courage were hallow i've seen alongside the concrete names of villages, numbers of roads, names of regimens and dates. he is trying to say these big abstract words that you see on war monuments, they are all
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hollow to soldiers who go through war. instead what they are focusing on are more pragmatic things. survive. military objectives. living through it. right? hemingway is a soldier's home. he examines, a veteran returning home. going back to the midwest. coming back home and trying to readjust to civilian life. what's that homecoming like for crebs? natalie? >> i mean, it's really difficult. at least i didn't get the sense that he was really expressive before the war.
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but we certainly get the sense that when he comes home, he has a really hard time relating to others, being outgoing, having genuine interest in a lot of things that are mundane, like going to watch his sister play indoor baseball. that it's just -- compared to his experience in the war, this is kind of trivial. and he hasn't yet dealt with the trauma of the war. and i think that we can see that the most in the scene with his mother when she asks him if he loves her and he says no. and this sense that he always has to try and console her, because the civilians can't necessarily deal with a soldier's experience. so the soldiers have to kind of alter what they say to pacify, because nobody can relate to them.
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>> yeah. >> that was convoluted. >> no, no. it's not convoluted at all. because you say a number of things we are able to pick up on. trauma, feelings of alienation, coming home, cruelty with the mom. hemingway loves those cruel lines, i don't love you. >> i think him coming home a year after everyone else affects his homecoming, because everyone comes home, they tell their experience and by the time he comes home, no one wants to hear it. he tries to talk to people but no one is listening. that bottles everything up for him inside. he can't really express himself. >> i love that scene. jacob? >> when he does talk to people, they only want to listen when he is exaggerating his experience. he doesn't like that because he feels like he's telling lies and it's not true. but it's the only way he can get people to listen. the public is enraptured with the idea of extremes. >> this may be a little bit kind of out there, but he has this sense of entitlement. when he's talking about, he
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doesn't want these consequences. he wants everything given to him. it's interesting how that comes out. hemingway mentioned this guy is a marine. because of the elite nature of the marines, it's almost like -- hemingway, at least for me, leads me to believe this comes from what his service was like. you are so elite that you get certain things or entitled to certain things. >> he does want some kind of recognition. but he finds himself in a competitive landscape. everyone else has come home. he comes home pretty late. so of course, with his homecoming, all the stories, the war stories have been told. most of them have been lies that he's found. that's not what service was like. if he wants his own voice to be heard, he needs to tell a bigger lie. he hates himself for doing it, right? kind of, or he becomes apathetic from doing it, so he stops doing it. he wants to talk about his experiences, because he's found that they are good for him to talk about. >> i think that's an interesting meditation on memory and war
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books and this idea that memory is an imperfect thing. i think that, i mean, it's hemingway so of course he says it elegantly, to be listened to, you have to lie. that kind of -- it's curious, because you have to kind of approach then most if not all memory sources as this kind of lie but talking about a broader truth. and it's just interesting because there's a really big debate going on with memory studies and how reliable are the sources, because it is kind of like an exaggeration or lie. you misremember things. i think hemingway gets at that concept. when soldiers do tell the truth, that's not what the public wants. do you love me? do you love your mother? no, i don't. that's not what i want to hear. i'm going to cry until you tell me otherwise. i think it's an interesting observation on memory studies as a whole as well.
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>> right. there, of course, is a parallel we can make between the little mother story and then of course the lying to the mother and saying, no, of course, i love you, but i don't love you, et cetera, that you run into with this. i think what natalie is saying is interesting, more broadly. it is a difficult thing whenever you are dealing with memory sources to figure out -- kevin, i was talking to you during office hour about this. we were expressing our frustration of trying to figure out, when is robert graves lying? when is he fabricating? maybe, why is he fabricating? why is he exaggerating? surely he's conscious he's doing it in certain instances, right? men aren't actually using the water from their water cold machine guns to boil tea. that's one of the examples he gives. right? they're not tapping out machine gun bullets according to song rhythms.
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okay? he's kind of fabricating that stuff. he's doing it for a narrative purpose, to show us something bigger, i think. it's interesting, natalie, that you should bring this up. there's a quote from guy chapman. we're going to look at some of chapman's reflections on his war experiences in a few minutes. chapman compiled -- he was like falls in he was interested in reading war books and compiling them. chapman compiled this book, a collection in 1937 he put together a first world war writing. it's an international compendium to first world war writing, good stuff by the germans, the french, a lot of british. in it, in the introduction, he says the nearest context we have with truth, the nearest context with truth, are the accounts of eyewitnesses. he said they matter far more than historical accounts or anything else.
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they will be far more lasting in terms of the war's impact. what's interesting is chapman was smart enough to know -- he was a memoirist, that accounts by eyewitnesses are subject to inaccuracies. after all, when memoirists write a memoir, they're constructing a story. like you all do when you are relating the best weekend you've ever had to your friends, you are cutting corners with the story. you are telling it for narrative effect. after all, it's not going to sell if you don't. right? hemingway is writing a story. we need to be conscious of the fact he is writing a short story. this is fiction. he's hoping to show us something more significant about the way people remember the war. what they are bringing home from it. kevin? >> i think it's interesting that his character, given all that, is so interested in waiting for
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all the histories to come out and the accurate maps. even as chapman is saying these will be the memories of the war that really last, of lies, the exaggerations, the soldier himself, the character soldier, is saying, well, this isn't true. i want to wait until all this stuff comes out so i can put myself on the map where i was when and understand what role i played in the greater war. >> yeah. natalie? >> i think that that line, that segment reminded me -- i put it in the margins of the sheet. of the battle in that -- i mean, it is perhaps a very emotional story that the eyewitness, the flash witness, that we're going to remember later, but you also need to have that broader context of what's happening, and you just don't get that from someone in the trenches. an individual in any war. you just don't get the big picture. it's always good to have both how this larger war impacted the individual, but then you also need that context.
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>> i think it's really interesting, too, when he is looking through the maps and he's looking at the entire war narrative, he designates himself, i was a good soldier. why do i have to lie to get attention from people? i was a good soldier. my story is important enough that it should be told. and people should look at it. i was a marine. i was at bellowwood. that right there is the real ordeal by fire for a lot of the marines during world war i. for him i think it's really tough for him. and then the fact that he's coming back home and the only thing that has changed for him and for the community is that the girls have gotten older. and so i think he has trouble, why isn't my story important? it's huge. it's huge to the context of the war. i think that debates through his mind.
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>> yeah. that interest in kind of military history is a way to insert himself back into history. you read that piece in the beginning of the semester about the importance of soldiers' writings, showing they are the man who was there. one of hines' big argument in his book "the soldier's tale" he's trying to show that people write memoirs so they can feel a part of history, so they can tell people, i was there when great events were going on. crebbs wants to do that, too. his family won't let him but he wants to do it. >> play along that, exactly. wanted to bring up the fact that depending on what soldier experienced is going to influence what and how they portray what they saw. even if there are specific lies or stretched truths, what you are really getting are the things that they found most important or that people might want to hear the most of.
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but at the same time it's important to look at why they chose that and why they didn't choose that. in the sense of historical memory -- that's something more telling. in term of civil war regimental history, it's the same story. the 69th pennsylvania pops into my head the most just in terms of monument placement here at gettysburg. up at the angle and that story, but at the same time, it was the idea of being remembered as being honorable and being remembered as being the rock. just the terms of how you want to be remembered is what you will say. >> yeah. definitely. that's great. way to work the civil war into it. we need to. we're here at gettysburg college. the story though -- i think this is great analysis. this is really well done. when the story is read, it's read as what -- the one word that natalie was using is soldier trauma, feelings of alienation from family.
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people interpret this, they interpret this struggle. do you see that as the takeaway from the the story? the wider importance. the question i love to ask all of you, if you are explaining this story to somebody who doesn't know anything about the first world war, how would you explain it in a few sentences? run-on sentences like hemingway. right? and it was good. i caught the fish. i ate the fish. the fish was delicious. he wouldn't say delicious. he would say good. i caught the fish. i threw my line in. i caught the fish. i gutted the fish. i cooked the fish. i ate the fish. the fish was good. i went to bed. >> i would describe it as a story about a soldier coming home and finding that it the rules he had learned around him were no longer working for him now that he was home. so he felt kind of out of place.
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i mean, because of the war but not the war itself but rather the homecoming that really kind of changes things on him. >> that's a good separation there. right? between the war itself and what he saw and experienced in the war and then coming home. girls' hair cuts are different but he's not interested. his mother makes him the same breakfast and wants him to be in the same place he was before the war but he's not anymore. kristen. >> i was going to say, i think it's interesting that hemingway is trying to portray crebbs as the victim of coming home. i mean, i know carrington was mentioned in this as well, that it was after the war that you started getting this disillusionment and confusion, but i feel like hemingway is sort of following that in a way, that crebbs is coming home, he's confident in his war experiences. he was a good soldier.
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and then because he came home to a community that really had no interest in his story anymore -- i mean, he had to take that disillusionment idea and he had to kind of run with it in his own story telling. i feel like he as well as carrington both look at the coming home, the return home, as that victimization for these soldiers. >> but that's where it happens. >> i think crebbs comes home -- people don't understand him. he's changed and he's really struggling. he comes home a year later. nor does he then understand the people that are left there. they were kind of -- they were in their own world. he is in his own world. i think hemingway does a tremendous job. i mean this whole story, he paints the family. this is a unique family. the mom saying we're in this kingdom together, god's kingdom. he says, wait a minute. what's this all about here?
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i have changed. i don't buy into all that stuff anymore. i think it's a struggle from both sides, the family that's left there as well as crebbs coming home. >> it takes forever for his dad to let him take the car out. right? the guy just fought for his country. >> i think if i were to explain this in those run-on sentences you just described, i would say it's about a guy who's dealing with the conflicted nature in him of making this decision to go to war, you know, and then looking for validation of that afterward. that's what he wants. he wants someone to recognize him. the only thing that will recognize him is the map. but the map is not going to recognize crebbs. it's going to recognize the 6th and 5th marines. it's really interesting in that because everyone wants him to move on. he doesn't have time to deal with anything he's experienced because it happens so quickly so that's what this period is.
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it's kind of common when you look at certain memoirs that make it into the big stage. if anyone has seen the pacific recently one of the main characters, they are the same pacific," eugene sledge, i mean, krebs and sledge are the same person, essentially. sledge comes home and kind of thefts about for months and his parents like, we don't understand you, we want you to move on. it's unique that hemingway creates it, but it's also something we see played out in reality, too. >> yeah. there is a little bit of a difference, a little bit of a difference, though, between the second world war and the second world war, a little bit of a difference. what i mean by that, is of course, a delicate way of saft saying there's a big difference, right? there's a big difference between the two wars, because the second world war was not at risk of being forgotten in the 1950s. and you get the impression from hemingway in the mid-1920s when this is written that people don't want to talk about the war anymore.
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so do you think that this story has something to do with the way that americans remember the first world war? >> i think it says something about sensationalism in war, in that those who didn't participate, meaning the civilians who were left at home, especially in the u.s. where the war didn't come here, so the civilians didn't really have a context of this ultimate suffering that the soldiers went through. and so, to the people at home who were waiting for their men to come home, they came back, it was a sensationalism in a sense that, oh, my gosh, you guys were heroes in the war, now let's get on with our lives because i've been waiting for you. and i think that that idea of civilians waiting, it kind of steamrolls soldier memory,
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because the soldiers aren't, like, waiting in the same sense that the civilians are, and so their experiences are kind of like, oh, great, congratulations. all right, let's move on. >> save that title, "steamroller of memory." some day, "steam rollers of memory," okay? someone else had a hand up over here. yeah, pete. >> i think thinking about sensationalism, right? i think it says that -- at least this is what i'm thinking -- in world war i, there's nothing sensational about american involvement. yeah, you look at a history book nowadays and you would think americans were god on earth in world war i for saving everyone, but in the context of the larger story of what happened, we were really small, so it makes sense that what natalie was saying, of those civilians at home who, yeah, bella wood may have been in the paper and cantanine -- i probably butchered the name -- that probably would have been in the papers for a day are two, but other than that, there was almost nothing worth remembering because there was no glorified american charge, using those
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words hemingway says, are hollow. >> and that's scale. american involvement is much less than involvement of other players in the first world war. >> yeah, i mean, it's true, but i think as well, that ignores the idea -- and perhaps this comes about a little bit later than the '20s, but this idea that america entered the war and then, bam, it's done. like, oh, we saved it for you guys. don't worry, you've been sweating it out in the field for years, but we've got this. >> field? trenches. >> yes, well, in going along with the idea of the romantic idea of war, in the fields of battle. >> of glory. >> yes, of glory. so i think that -- and perhaps this could be a little lator, but america constructs their own exceptionalism into the idea of war, especially in world war i, where we came over, we saved it for you, now the world is safe for democracy. we can all go home and enjoy our lives in freedom.
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>> i think also, too, this is kind of going back to earlier readings from this semester about, you know, how civilians don't really understand war. i don't think civilians quite comprehend how much soldiers have changed throughout their experiences, so you know, they, kind of along with what you were saying, natalie, you expect to hear the story once and then they move on, but that's not realistic. they spent maybe four years in the trenches, and that's something that changes you as a person, and it's not a story you're going to tell once. it's something that's going to affect you for a long period of time. >> yeah, and it's interesting, those stories become really important in the 1920s. there are a lot of fraternal veterans organizations that spring up in participant nations from the first world war -- america, you know. the american legion, of course, is a classic example, of veterans getting together to share their stories with each other because they feel like they can't share a lot of those stories with the civilian public, with even their family members. well, it's interesting, because
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you'll run into hemingway whenever you hear people talking about american war memory. hemingway's one of these names that come up. and i think it's good for us to kind of push back a little bit on the story the way that you've done it now and to kind of figure out, okay, what's at the heart of this story? d disillusionment doesn't really fit in. that's where it's too general for us to get at heart of what hemingway's writing about. since i brought up the big "d," let's talk about charles carrington. charles carrington wrote his "subalterns war." it's a memoir that's no longer in print, though he did write kind of a revised half history-half memoir, called "soldiers from the wars returning," which is still in print. it's a memoir of a junior officer's service on the western front. and it shows principally two battles, battle of the psalm,
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battle of the passiondale. like so many british soldiers, he was at both battles and shows them in great detail. but what i think makes the book really, really distinctive is that carrington felt a need, and he wrote his publisher about this, peter davis, and he specifically wrote his publisher and said i want to put an essay at the end of my book on the philosophy of war. and that became the essay you read on militarism. now, this isn't some kleltsavitsian tone on here's what war is. this is an essay instead about generation and about war generation and how they're being interpreted. and it's an amazing memorial document, a document that engages with concepts of war memories not only in britain but bug bigger war memories than just britain. i'm going to pull up three quotes from it.
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he writes his intentions of the book is to "strike a responsive chord in the hearts of some old soldiers who are tired of the uniform disillusion of most authors of war books, for it is time that the world remembered that among the 15 million who served, there were other types as well conventional equal pessimists." what he's saying is we've created a polarity here between militaryists and disillusioned pessimists. most of us don't fit in with that. we're somewhere in between, right? he says soldiers were not disenchanted by the war, for the war never offered them an enchanting prospect. they were just fed up. he, the common englishman, had not won at war, but he had engaged in it. he liked it even less than he expected, but he proposed to see
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it through. and if, which god forbid similar circumstances arose in 1929, he would do it again. there are no great expectations of going into the trenches. no one naively looked at the war, charles carrington, and thought this is going to be a good time. and when they got there, it was pretty terrible. and he gives us this striking, striking statement of martiality. this doesn't fit in at all with what hemingway was saying. he says the greater the horror of battle, the nobler the triumph of the man who is not morally ruined by it. if i was a minister and i said that from a pulpit, you would all be scared, right?
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moral ruination. not ruination, ruinnation. okay, one word. natalie. >> i kind of have a problem with the second quote in the sense that i think that that is a very disenchanted way of looking back on soldiers in war experiences, because i think that a lot of soldiers did go into the war maybe not thinking, oh, this is going to be so much fun, but certainly thinking like, let's go do this. i've looked a lot at prisoners of war and how they engage with their war, and what i saw was that those especially who are captured at the beginning of the conflict, before they really got into the trench system, when they were still kind of above ground and hadn't really engaged too much in battle that they still approached the war, even in prison, with this very like i
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need to get back to the front because i've got to do my duty and fight for my country, and i really want to be there. i'd be anywhere but in this prison, and i want to be with my men at the front, and that to me seems like a very enchanting way of looking at the war. and to contrast that, at the end of the memoir, it was a very doom and gloom, like, man, battle really sucked. i mean, i would do it again, but it was awful. so it provided a very stark contrast that kind of goes against this idea that kind of a guy chapman-esque way of looking at it like i didn't go into the war with any illusions. you sit there, like, did you, though? i think a little bit. >> natalie's being hard on charles carrington. i wish charles carrington was here. he would probably yell at you. what's carrington getting at the heart of with this essay? what's he trying to show, in kind of a broad brush with this essay? i've given you some choice
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quotes because he spits venom in them. and he says some nasty things about eric remark, too, which is entertaining, but he's actually getting at something really, really serious here. >> i think he's trying to say that it's not the soldiers coming home who have this disillusioned idea when they come back. it wasn't their -- their experiences were not that horrible as we interpret it to be. instead, we did have fun once in a while. but he blames the journalist, he blames the, you know, behind the trenches. he's blaming the people who are misinterpreting the war experience for the soldier, that you know, we keep saying that, oh, world war i was absolutely horrible, it was, you know, an experience that no other group of soldiers ever had to do. it was the most gruesome of wars. but he's saying, well, everybody suffers, all soldiers suffer in war.
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we're not the exception. and thus, we shouldn't be interpreting world war i as that exception. >> yeah, i mean, that's a really interesting point that he brings up, where he's saying that, on the one hand, what kristen's saying is that he's saying that there's a generation of people who are under the age of 25. he gives you very specific age. and he calls these people "those who went off to war before their characters were formed." why do you think he's so careful with this designation? with the idea of the war generation? why do you think he's so careful with that? under the age of 25, before their characters were formed. they went to war, and then what happened in war to carrington? they're like him. they're 18 when they reach the western front. they're like graves, they're 19 when they're in battle, right? then what happens?
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natalie. >> a very formative experience. it forms that character that was not previously formed. >> it changes them, right? it creates in many ways the adults that they are. carrington, certainly, his entire life, was interested in an other projectical survey of his war experiences. he's a fascinating guy to look at because he goes back and re-examines where he fought, where he served, who he served with, tries to figure out his own history, his own personal history and contrasts that with his own memories. okay. really, really interesting guy. but in part it's because he was so young when he goes off to war. within most of your age brackets, right? when he's serving in war. his character becomes formed on the western front. but when these soldiers who are so young and have this transformational experience, when they come home, as kristen said, they're talking in a different way. they're like krebs, right?
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they are cynical. they're a bit rough around the edges. they're like graves. they're swearing a lot, right? they're a bit different. and society around them is interpreting that as being disillusioned, that war has kind of done something to the souls of these men. and carrington's saying, hang on, that's the wrong interpretation. now, of course, carrington's creating his own alternative generational narrative, which has its own problems, right? you can't be an absolute -- an anti-absolutist and then an absolutist at the same time, and that's kind of what carrington's doing here, but he's giving us an alternative. a different way of looking at the war generation, a different way of looking at people who are coming home. he's just little bit more forceful about it, i think, right?
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you mentioned something else that i find really interesting. he says, as kristen indicated, first world war wasn't worse than other wars, all wars are bad, right? and that's interesting. but he also says postwar problems are issues that are timeless, you know? other nations that fight in wars have problems adjusting afterward, coming together, figuring out what wars were all about. he mentioned specifically the american civil war. and southern states as trying to readjust afterwards. and in this class, we have talked a lot about mythology, about the lost cause, for example, and then about other mythologies. now we're engaging with mythologies of the first world war. he's trying to give us a bigger essay about what's going on in nations after war, how they're trying to reconcile trauma,
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loss, trying to understand these things in terms of a national identity. in terms of who people are. what do you take away from charles carrington? that's what i get from it, bbut there's a lot else in here. yep, jacob. >> yeah, i think for me, i think he's saying, look at who you're placing the blame on. because he's saying you know, it's very easy to look at the english government and these politicians who got us involved in this war where people came out disillusioned, but he mentions, like yeah, these people had to support the war, the public did, because they elected the politicians who elected to go to war. and the men in the public signed up to volunteer for the war. and so they come home and the public just wants to place blame on someone, so they place it on the government. and so, there are these pacifists who are like, war is a
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horrible thing. and he does acknowledge that there are some permanent pacifists, but he kind of sees the majority of the pacifist public as like fairweather pacifists. and he comes in with this critique, basically saying it's very easy to be a pacifist when someone's not waving a gun at your face. so if this did happen again, we would come back and we would fight. >> yeah, and that's very interesting. it's hard not to read the experience of the second world war into that, too. i don't think we should do that. i'm not saying that we should, because i think we should take carrington on his own terms. but you can't help but think when he writes that of 1939, just in 1929. and carrington does volunteer and does serve during the second world war. >> i thought this quote on page 206 to be really interesting, that 1919 being the end of the war was the moment of disenchantment, that the war itself wasn't. and i think, jacob, this goes off of what you were saying
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about the idea of you're not going to be a pacifist if someone's waving a gun in your face. that during the war, everyone was all like, yeah, we totally need to be fighting this war. and it was only after the war ended that it was kind of a quiet change overall, postwar, that people were like, wait a second, so does that mean we didn't fight for anything because there wasn't this dramatic shift, that people started to question why they went to war when, in fact, during the war they were completely for it. >> yeah. we see something similar with hemingway's homecoming there, right? we see that in many ways, the peace is changing the way that people are actually viewing the war, that that period of readjustment, that period of disenchantment of readjusting to civilian life is what's changing the memory of the conflict. i think there's wisdom in that, very much so in what carrington's writing. and again, he's a person who's had a decade to think about these issues, to try to
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reconsider them, and then write his opinion of them. i want to point out two more examples before we're going to finish up. because i like the quotes that i'm going to give you, and i think they'll leave us in kind of a good place. the one is from someone that you undoubtably know, and it comes from c.s. lewis. and most of you know c.s. lewis, you know, popular theologian, but oxford don and writer of children's stories. i've sure you've all read "the chronicles of narnia." well, he served on the western front and in his memoir sums up his war experience. "i'm surprised i did not dislike the army more. it was detestable, but the words of course drew the sting." as opposed to the school he went to, so public school might have been worse. "no one expected to like it, no one said you ought to like it, no one pretended to like it.
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everyone you met took it for granted that the whole thing was an odious necessity, a ghastly interruption of rational life, and that made all the difference. straight tribulation is easier to bear than tribulation which advertises itself as a pleasure. the one breeds comradery even when intensifies with love between fellow sufferers, the other mutual distrust, cynicism concealed and fretting resentment." how does this fit in with what we're talking about? does it? i think of dorm life when i read this, kind of. >> yeah, referring to the war as an odious necessity, sort of similar to how carrington refers to war as a shipwreck. like it's not something that the nations chose, and maybe it was justified, it was something that was necessary. >> yeah. it was simply something that was horrible, but we had to do it, yeah. carrington writes about that as being his great shipwreck, that
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he goes on too many pages talking about. he pushes that analogy too far. >> i think it also speaks eloquently to the idea that, you know, i'm not really disillusioned at all. i mean, i'm kind of surprised that i'm not as disillusioned as people think i should be. and i think that that's an interesting idea that not many people write about. >> yeah, it certainly is. and he doesn't write much about it either. and his war memories affected him. he carried his war wounds for the rest of his life, and his war memories affected him. there are, you know, people do describe lewis as carrying those war memories with him. but he doesn't necessarily look back at them in the same way that a lot of people would. val, you're going to say something? >> just his last bit about the love between fellow sufferers and how they share this new, mutual understanding between one another. i think it is especially poignant coming from c.s. lewis being someone from belfast
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himself and seeing and understanding the sectarian differences between a lot of the individuals in that city in northern ireland and how you actually have people on each and every side of conflict that will end up breaking out and also within each social class that are coming together and are all together and experiencing this one, mutual situation to fret over. >> yeah, kind of that idea of fellow sufferers together. yeah, no, that is essential. and it plays into so many different memoirs that talk about the value of comradeship. even graves writes about this, uncynically. one last leg for us. we're going to end with guy chapman, because we end with guy chapman and he's a good place to end. we began with wilfred owen. i want to end with guy chapman. this first quote you read earlier in the semester, but i want to remind you of it. it's a section of chapman's war
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memoir in which he talks about watching a battalion, his battalion marching off toward the front. and he goes into this both present and past sort of view of things, from 1930s eyes looking back at a memory. and he recalls that in 1930, going back and looking, or having this memory of men marching off toward the front. and you can envision the battalion marching and the dust that's kicking up behind them. and they're singing as they're marching. and chapman writes, our your life and death are nothing in these fields, nothing, no more than it is to the man planning the next attack. you're not even a pawn. your death does not prevent future wars, it won't make the world safe for your children." that's pretty disillusioned stuff, isn't it? "if by your courage and tribulation, by your cheerfulness before the dirty devices of this world you've won the love of those who watched you. all we remember is your living
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faith, that we loved you for being our spirit." that's not fitting in with the first part of the paragraph. guy chapman, why are you confusing us? what are we supposed to take away from that? what's his memory showing us? is it showing us anything? >> the experience and soldier sacrifice and the meaning behind it makes an impact on an individual, not a national level, that an individual sacrifice impacts the individual's life and the people in that life, and the army's sacrifice impacts the nation. >> i think really what he's trying to say is to leadership, to the nation, your death is
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nothing. you're just, you're a number. but in reality, you as one person have changed everything. i think that the one person may be nothing to the larger whole, but to others that you know, that you served with, you mean everything. >> yeah, i think that's a nice interpretation. the soul of the army, the soul of the experience for chapman is with the people he served with. chapman writes a second war memoir, pieces it together in the late '60s, early '70s, published by his wife after he died. we began with wilfred owen -- [ speaking foreign language ] talking about this idea of nobody dies for their country, in a good way, in a sweeter,
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beautiful way. all right? owen's known for his lines, "the pity of war," the poetry's in the pity, right? that's what owen's known for. chapman engages with that directly later in life. he says, "i'm never grateful for comment, however sensible in that war for men who are not in it." probably would not like everything we've said here today. "my gain from it is of importance only for myself, for the rest i am conscious of lost, the lost friends i knew for such a short time, the impoverishment of life." referring directly to owen, the poetry is not the pity, "to hell with your generalized pity." what the survivor remembers is not the fears he knew, the pains that the faces and the few words of the men who were with him." so, as we leave this class, we
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should embrace i think to some degree the messiness that is history and historical memory. that just when we think we have a narrative worked out, just when we think we have a way of explaining in short or long sentences to somebody what a historical source is, to summarize it in an easier, convenient way, that we will always find people who are representing that war or pushing back against that war experience in a way that will surprise the way that we've interpreted or upend it. thank you very much, and i'll see you all next week.
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during american history tv in prime time this week, we're showing our "lectures in history" series, which takes you across the country into college classrooms, and we are debuting a new lecture each night. tonight it's an overview of world war i with lectures on sea power during the war, the experiences of soldiers and myths about the u.s. during the first world war. american history tv in prime time starts at 8:00 eastern. this labor day weekend, american history tv on c-span3 has three days of featured programming. saturday night at 8:00 eastern, bakersfield college professor oliver rosales shares his personal family history and other oral histories about the national farmworkers' association. >> chavez was absolutely blowing this up. the movement of farm workers, the people at the bottom of society, right, were suddenly becoming engaged in fighting for their rights, wages, working conditions, but also mobilizing
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for politicians, right? we'll talk maybe a little bit about this later. i know some of you mentioned this in your oral history. one of the best friends of the chavez family is the kennedy family, right, starting with john and then robert and their children. >> sunday evening at 6:00 on "american artifacts," we will visit the national security archive at george washington university with its director, thomas blanton. for the 50th anniversary of the freedom of information act, signed into law by president johnson. >> so, john moss had been the lonely crusader all this time. all of a sudden, he picked up this bright, young, illinois congressman as a co-sponsor, a guy named donald rumsfeld. rumsfeld's statement on the floor of the house in 1966 is a pretty good explanation of why the bill then became a real majority bill. rumsfeld said government's gotten so big, it's involved in so many different pieces of our life, our commercial life, industrial life, personal lives. medicare's passed, social security, so forth. we need the right to get those
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records out of agencies to be able to uphold our own standard of living, our own liberty, our own freedom and as a restrain on government. >> and monday morning at 11:00 eastern, the national parks service marking its 100th anniversary at arlington house, the robert e. lee memorial. we spoke with former nps director brebdan stanton and the former manager who will oversee a year-long restoration of the mansion, slave quarters and grounds. >> we were incredibly fortunate that we were able to really tailor our specific needs for all kinds of things, for the museum objects, for telling the story, the interpretation, and for the physical fixes and construction that needed to happen, not just to the buildings, but to the historic grounds and gardens. and we were able to present that to mr. rubenstein, and he generously donated us $12.3 million to make that happen. >> for our complete american history tv schedule, go to
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with the house and senate returning from their summer break next week, join us tonight at 8:00 eastern. we'll preview four key issues facing congress this fall. federal funding to combat the zika virus. >> women in america today want to make sure that they have the ability to not get pregnant. why? because mosquitos ravage pregnant women. >> but today they turned down the very money that they argued for last may, and they decided to gamble with the lives of children like this. >> the annual defense policy and programs bill. >> all of these votes are very vital to the future of this nation in a time of turmoil, in a time of the greatest number of refugees since the end of world war ii. >> gun violence legislation and criminal justice reform. >> every member of this body, every republican and every democrat wants to see less gun
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violence. >> we must continue to work the work of nonviolence and demand an end to senseless killing everywhere. >> and the resolution for congress to impeach irs commissioner john koskinen. >> house resolution 828, impeaching john andrew koskinen, commissioner of the internal revenue service, for high crimes and misdemeanors. >> we'll review the expected congressional debate with susan ferrechio, senior congressional correspondent for "the washington examiner." joining us tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span for "congress this fall." on "lectures in history," chapman university history professor jennifer keene looks at myths about america's involvement in world war i, including the misconceptions that the u.s. was not involved in europe prior to entering the war or that world war i failed to have a lasting impact on american society. this class is about an hour 20 minutes.
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>> all right, so today we're going to talk about america during the first world war. and i've called this lecture "americans at war: the mistbusters edition." and i did that kind of intentionally, because when we think about understanding the first world war in general, there are so many myths and misconceptions that are attached to the war that it's really interesting for us to first understand why those myths exist and then to unpack them a little bit and think more about the reality of the experience, right? and i wanted to start first by sort of talking about how this connects to the first world war overall. so it's not just america that has these myths. but even this sense of how we understand the first world war to begin with and we think of the kind of general narrative that we attach to it. one of the most common narratives is that world war i was a senseless slaughter, right? we've already talked about the
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uncertainty as to why this war ever even occurred, but once it's under way, there is this sort of intent image, and we get that image a lot from popular culture -- those are the kind of images that i have up here for you -- of the idea that this really was just men sent needlessly to their deaths. and so, i've got two examples. one is "all quiet on the western front." you're going to like this image, right? this is the cover for the first english edition of the novel. you'll recognize that image from something we discussed last class. and of course, last class, this was german war bond poster and that soldier was meant to represent, you know, germany's last hope, the one who was willing, willing to sacrifice for his country. and now it becomes sort of recycled as a different image. now it's an image of a man who is needlessly sacrificed for his country, right? and then this one over here, which is from a movie from the 1960s called "oh what a lovely war." and i think that this little
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part over here's pretty instructive. the ever popular war games with songs, battles and a few jokes, right? really the idea that the politicians and the generals play at war. it's a war game for them, but it's the men on the battlefield who actually have to suffer. now, i'm not trying to suggest to you that world war i did not involve senseless slaughter. what i do want to suggest to you is that this overarching image kind of obscures some other realities to the war in a more general sense. and so, here's just one example of this, right? we have this notion of how many people die overall in the war. we have less of a notion that, actually, the majority of soldiers will survive, right? most men actually will come home. so there is tremendous numbers of casualties, but there's also a high rate of survival. so here we have a statistic, nine out of ten british soldiers, for instance, will actually come home, all right?
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so, that's one thing that the senseless slaughter conception kind of obscures for us. and the other is it obscures the reality that, in fact, soldiers spent a lot of their time outside of the trenches, right? they were obviously fighting, but the majority of their time was either spent in reserve trenches or far behind the lines. and we could take this one step further to point out that for all those men that are in the front lines, there need to be like two or three men behind the lines supporting them. so there are large numbers of men who survive not just because they're not in the front lines that long but because so many men are noncombatants. they're actually serving in the rear. and those are people that we never really factor into our narrative when we just think about the first world war as senseless slaughter. and so, the last point i want to make here about this is that when we have this myth of senseless slaughter overall connected to the first world war, it kind of obscures the


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